The Federal Emergency Management Agency could assign as much as $30 billion to address damage mitigation work in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane María’s destruction, Alejandro De la Campa, director of the agency’s Caribbean Region II, said.
The total allocation of federal funds could total between $70 billion and $80 billion over the next few years, he told members of the Association of General Contractors, Puerto Rico Chapter (AGC-PR,) during the entity’s monthly luncheon.
De la Campa detailed FEMA’s recommendations to address some of the vulnerable areas, including: Planning and permits, and ensuring compliance with existing building codes; Alternative energy systems to improve the electrical system permanently; and Changes to flood maps for future construction projects.
He noted the agency does not hire contractors, but rather reimburses municipalities and government agencies for the completed work.
Stephen Spears, president of AGC-PR, made an urgent call to the central government, public corporations and public agencies to establish mechanisms to expedite payment to contractors in Puerto Rico doing mitigation work for local government agencies.
“We are closely monitoring the situation of payments to contractors. We know that there are many outstanding invoices and that the balance owed is high,” Spears said.
“The construction industry needs to be paid on time and according to the terms established in the contracts. Non-payment weakens the industry, reduces financial and security deposit capacity, increases costs, creates unemployment and affects Puerto Rico’s credibility as a destination for doing business,” Spears said.